What is Flow State in Exercise? - Sweatbox

You know the drill. If you want something, you have to focus until you get it. This applies to all aspects of life, including exercise.

However, not all people can retain the intense focus, especially when confronted with delectable choices versus hitting the gym or running outside.

It’s time to be serious about “getting in the zone.” It is the super-focused feeling you get while in the middle of an exercise.

That feeling is referred to as the flow state.

What exactly are these flow states, and how do you achieve flow?

Let me explain all about flow research, how to induce flow, and experience flow by developing intense concentration. While it may sound like a challenge, the flow experience is beneficial and worth the effort.

If you are ready to produce positive feelings by learning more about the flow state and how to get into it, read on.

Immediate Feedback about What is Flow State

Flow state is often referred to, especially by those who have experienced it, as being in the zone. This is when you focus solely on what’s in front of you.

For example, you are engaged in physical fitness at the moment. You become fully engaged with your training session.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a challenging workout or you are about to perform unfamiliar movement patterns. Your brain focus doesn’t get out of the zone.

You rely on your existing skill levels or existing abilities to fuel muscle activity. By doing so, you are making meaningful progress while experiencing flow.

The flow state is the wholeness you experience upon gaining complete control of your mind and body, and you don’t veer away from the present moment. You can produce positive feelings through the use of intense concentration in whatever physical activity you’re doing.

The Process Underlying Flow Occurrence – A Well-Studied Phenomenon

This flow state is a psychological phenomenon of a pleasurable learning experience. It is rewarding and positive psychology.

According to the University of Lincoln, UK sport and exercise psychology senior lecturer Patricia Jackman, Ph.D., you experience this flow state when you don’t feel the effort you are exerting in a task.

This is because you are totally absorbed in experiencing flow with your movement patterns and in the present moment. You are totally absorbed with this positive psychology that makes it easier to gain complete control of the exercise flow, how you find flow, and in creating flow.

It makes everything effortless to the point that you lose your sense of self. You get a complete sense of control and focus in your weight training and in creating flow.

The flow state makes you lose time perception. It boosts your energy and makes you feel like your whole body is coordinated.

This flow state is not exclusive to exercise science or physical education. You can experience the same sense of control and induce flow when doing other activities, like getting totally into the music being played in a big concert with a huge crowd.

Gaining Intense Concentration Amid a Crowd or Chaos

How exactly does this flow state feel? When you achieve flow, the intense focus will turn your mind away from discomfort.

When doing strenuous physical activity or in a group fitness class, the flow state will help you bypass the difficulties. Instead, you won’t feel discomfort as your body reaches the point where it doesn’t hurt, and you don’t find anything painful anymore.

The flow experience is a positive and engaging experience. It allows you to enjoy and perceive things as easy, even if they are not. When you reach the flow state, it’s like nothing else matters.

According to flow research backed up with quantitative and qualitative evidence, you will know that you have reached the flow state when you feel invincible. You feel empowered when in the flow state.

You get locked in the activity when you achieve flow, induce flow, and the flow occurs.

It is something positive. It is beneficial. And this flow state makes you feel like you can challenge skills balance and do any physical activity as long as you don’t lose the intense focus and commitment in attaining your peak performance.

Challenge Skills Balance by Keeping the Momentum

Reaching the flow state gives you the momentum to keep going with the activity. It doesn’t matter what it is – a physical activity, group fitness class, physical education, or other activities that challenge skill balance.

You will get to the flow state as long as you keep your commitment to obtain peak performance and use intense focus in achieving flow.

This flow state is not a new concept. It gained attention, and people started discussing the flow state when the concept was introduced in the 1970s.

The idea of the flow state was tackled in the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It resurfaced in public attention in the 90s after researchers and coaches started future research directions. They had peer-reviewed studies focused on flow questionnaire and the pleasurable learning experience.

More studies have been done about flow state aiming to draw meaningful conclusions and review advances knowledge about what experiencing flow encourages. The studies mainly focused on the flow state in different areas.

They include adventure recreation, physical education, positive psychology, how to fuel muscle activity, boosting existing skill levels and brain focus, gaining a sense of control, exercise science, and sports.

Importance of Achieving Flow State in Your Workout Programs and the Fitness Industry

Not everybody has the intrinsic motivation to enjoy physical activity, physical education, or intense workout programs. While some enthusiasts enjoy finishing a challenging workout, not everyone’s existing abilities are up for the experience.

Whether a personal trainer or a certified personal trainer in the fitness industry, it will make your work easier when you teach your students how to get into the flow state and become fully engaged.

When people experience flow, they gain positive and engaging experience no matter how tasking the physical activity is. They enjoy the challenge skills balance of the activities you give them as their personal trainer.

Flow states make the flow experience in doing the exercises engaging. They will likely give you their immediate feedback and keep seeking your services as their personal trainer.

People learn to challenge skills balance and process underlying flow occurrence in achieving flow despite the repeat movement patterns and challenging workout. As their certified personal trainer, you will get direct feedback about the flow experience and the underlying flow occurrence.

Why would you want to reach the flow state in your exercises? The flow state serves as a solid motivating force to keep pushing.

The flow state will make it easier for you to focus and do everything you can without feeling easily tired. The flow state makes you enjoy the process and the flow experience.

Keeping it this way will gradually develop the intrinsic motivation of experiencing flow and getting the best results from your exercise sessions.

Finding The Easiest Way to Reach the Flow State

Every individual has a unique way of reaching their flow states. However, all of us can attain a flow state regardless of the activity.

In achieving flow, you have to gain a sense of control over the flow triggers. Take note that your trigger flow may work opposite to another person. Or other people’s trigger flow may have the same or different effect on you.

You can try various flow experiences to see which will give you a sense of control and the fastest way to reach the flow state.

Here are some flow experiences you can try to get into your flow state:

  1. Allow the brain to focus specifically on the exercise by removing distractions or listening to music

Turn the music on and listen to your favorite tune. This will work for people who can eliminate distractions by listening to music.

You can turn off your phone to focus on the exercise and the repeat movement patterns. Assess flow with your every movement and as you get into the groove.

Achieving a flow state when exercising also depends on your timing. Pick a time when you are least likely to get disturbed and when you can work out with minimal or no distractions at all.

  1. Make the flow experience possible by doing the exercises you love doing

In achieving flow, choosing the right intensity and types of exercises is necessary. Even when you are part of the best yoga classes Singapore, you need to find the sequences and movements where you give your all.

You must choose the exercise where actions happen automatically because you enjoy the process.

  1. Refrain from over challenging yourself in achieving flow and reaching the flow state

Experiencing flow encourages you to develop pattern recognition and use flow experiences to make the brain focus specifically on the present task. However, you have to take it slow since you can’t be too hard on yourself. You can gradually move to the more challenging exercises and wait as actions happen automatically.

Picking up exercises that are beyond your fitness level may become too daunting. They may result in losing your focus and make it harder for you to experience flow states.

  1. Be concise with conceptual and methodological issues and have a clear focus and goal

Getting into flow states is all in the mind. You must work your concentration internally and develop pattern recognition to achieve flow.

When you go to your fitness class, you must already have your mind set on what you want to achieve and how to get to that. In this case, you are aiming to get into flow states so that you will do your best to any given exercise or movement.

  1. Plan the workout and extend as you gain momentum

The flow state will pick up your momentum. This means that even though you initially decided to exercise for 10 to 15 minutes, you can extend the time as you improve oxygen flow and experience the positive effects of getting into flow states.

Final words

You can do many things to make it easier to experience a flow state regardless of the physical activity you are engaged in. The flow state helps you finish your routine with significant focus in less time.

Experiencing flow states is similar to getting into a vinyasa flow. They make the activity beneficial.

However, you must keep challenging yourself to keep your flow state in check. This is not a one-time deal. What gets you into the flow state now may no longer work once you already get used to the exercises’ challenges and movements.

About the Author​

Lynette is fully dedicated to the support and empowerment of the growing community of committed yoga students and teachers. As one of the Lead Instructors for Yoga Teacher Training, she is here to share tips on how to grow your profile as a yoga teacher or build a yoga business either physically or digitally.